Virtual Roads | The Future of Video Games?


Have you ever wanted to hop into your favorite racing simulation and drive around a road you know and love in real-life? RaceDepartment spoke with Porsche and Way Ahead Technologies and we may well be one step closer to just that.

The project is called Virtual Roads, where users can record a journey on their smart phone and transfer this information into a video game. If you’re looking for laser scanned accuracy, then this isn’t it, but the app utilizes the smartphone camera with its sensors to record a road and recreate this information in a virtual world. Laserscanning a track is a timely and expensive exercise, Porsche hopes this technology will make this process a lot cheaper and less time consuming – in short: manageable for anyone, anywhere and more community driven. Not only official race tracks can be driven but what the community is creating and covering.

Virtual Roads 02.jpeg


The application is currently compatible with a number of racing games including 'Assetto Corsa‘. Users will be able to record a scenic route, or a favorite countryside road, and be able to return to this whenever they want. This will be done by simply mounting their smartphone behind the windscreen and recording a route using an app.

The software utilizes technology such as artificial intelligence to record a road and the surrounding area, such as trees and roadside furniture. The software recreates this information in a digital form. The AI can even recognise people and cars and fade these out of the recreation, it can also determine the road surface so it knows if you’re driving on tarmac or even ice.

The project has been around one year in the making so far, with an initial vision of transferring a real road into a gaming experience. Whilst the final product may still be a gaming experience, this type of technology opens up a vast array of potential uses.

"After several years of development work, our software is now so advanced that it can digitalise routes for virtual roads of up to eight kilometers long in less than an hour, depending on how complex the route is", says Roger Rueegg from Way Ahead Technologies. "We're also looking at other options and functions at the moment." For example, Rueegg thinks that data from the sensors that measure lateral acceleration and chassis control could also be recorded and used in the future.*

Virtual Roads 03.jpeg


At present several solutions could be on the cards which include recreating routes into your favorite sim, a mobile gaming app, and a host of potential utilities.

It’s even potentially possible for someone to record a route and extract this data to be used within a track builder to make fully fledged roads with 3D buildings, trees, billboards, etc.

Looking ahead, you can expect a market ready application in around 2 years.

Porsche and Way Ahead Technologies would like to hear from the RaceDepartment community.
  • Can you think of any uses for the Virtual Roads project and would you be keen to get your hands on this technology?
  • Which road would you like to digitalize?
  • Do you want to race your friends on your favorite tracks?
  • What do you like the most about this technology? How would you use it?

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Damian Reed
PC geek, gamer, content creator, and passionate sim racer.
I live life a 1/4 mile at a time, it takes me ages to get anywhere!

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Pikes Peak would be cool for racing. Our local city/area would be interesting and maybe even useful for people like myself that are 'navigationally challenged'. The road/s needs to be recorded with a 3D camera so it can be revisited in full glorious VR.
 
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.. one might think the Sim-Trucker world would eat this up.
Yes, this.. maybe.
But foreign military forces,
would love it...
Btw, what happened to the NASCAR project, some time ago, where you could jump into, and participate in a Live race, in your sofa, in front of your TV ?
 
Would be very nice someone do for driving games what MS did for flight simulation sceneries. Can picture a game like Eurotruck, but worldwide.
No, MS has never shared anything.

Every Dev company seems to want you, to only be able playing in their own created world.
 
This is a great idea. Hard to pick few but here is a list:
- The Swiss alpine passes
- Andorra to France pass
- EVO Triangle
- Isle of Man
- Tail of the Dragon
- Mulholland Drive
- Serra do Rio do Rastro
and many more
 
Must say, I've enjoyed ISavic' AC mod work of Knjaževac the improvements even before ver 1.0 were massive. Remember as a boy/preteen in early 1980ies dreaming of this as a possibility to sim drive my local suburb, but quite naive with the IT progress by that time I sad that this would be a possibility before the decade was over.
Just very happy that it seems to be the time of implementing photogrammetry for sim track modelling is mature now and think this surely will open a world for the excellent modder community :inlove:
 
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I'd love to understand more of what this offers for track creators over and above creating tracks from LIDAR data and satellite images.
  • I suppose it substitutes the effort to dig up LIDAR data for the effort to travel somewhere and capture roads/tracks with your phone... but which takes more time and effort?
  • Would it significantly reduce the manual texture/object work required? It's possible it would, but also possible it would not e.g. if the surrounding objects (e.g. trees, buildings) are poorly captured by the photogrammetry...
 
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Premium
Probably one the holy grails of simracing right now. This sounds promising so far, but frankly the amount of clean-up and re-work(not to mention problems like gigantic file sizes) that was needed in similar experimental projects makes me very cautionally optimistic only. There is probably a reason a very empty ice road was showcased in the demo.
 
I'd love to understand more of what this offers for track creators over and above creating tracks from LIDAR data and satellite images.
  • I suppose it substitutes the effort to dig up LIDAR data for the effort to travel somewhere and capture roads/tracks with your phone... but which takes more time and effort?
  • Would it significantly reduce the manual texture/object work required? It's possible it would, but also possible it would not e.g. if the surrounding objects (e.g. trees, buildings) are poorly captured by the photogrammetry...
Same here. Both, yes and no...

But if i knew it was in planning, I
would like to help Porsche with this.
The F 1 track in Stockholm City. :D
 
I wonder if this is a completely separate dev team from Kompass, which has been doing a similar thing for a bit, aimed at making more variety in rally courses (so drivers can't pre-train)
 
A406 down to Charlie Brown’s Roundabout, follow the river roding past the dump, turn left then all the way up Broadmead Road to the castle, left along Woodford new road then back onto the A406… would be an amazing circuit!
 
id love to do this with appalachian mountain roads, depending on how well it can recreate VERY tight technical densely tree covered roads. theyre some of the best driving roads in the world. us129 doesnt even scratch the surface of what else is around that area within a couple hundred miles.
 
Yes, this.. maybe.
But foreign military forces,
would love it...
Btw, what happened to the NASCAR project, some time ago, where you could jump into, and participate in a Live race, in your sofa, in front of your TV ?
I thought that was for Indycar, if I recall, it did get off the ground, but was never successful and the project folded fairly quickly.
 
If it's THAT easy, then the creators of Euro Truck sim have no excuse to not have 1:1 maps.
 
One of my all-time favourite fun roads in real life is the road from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells. I used to be very naughty driving that road, but only during the quiet times. :whistling:

edit: which reminds me, I'm sure that a similar feature was promised with GT6 but was never delivered.
 
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I thought that was for Indycar, if I recall, it did get off the ground, but was never successful and the project folded fairly quickly.
Ah, yes maybe Indycar..
I'm still curious about... if Porsche add a lot of cash in this project. We know that the income is pretty good, for their cars. What would we have on our screen in a short future ? No dates yet, is it ?
 

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